SojournKids

5 Minute Devotional: Esther Became Queen (Esther 1-4)

Josh RobertsComment

Dear Parents,

This week we began a two-part session on Esther and how God used her to save His people. Esther was a young Jewish girl whom King Ahasuerus had chosen to be his queen. The former queen had defied the king and was promptly replaced. Esther did not reveal to the king that she was a Jew.

(3 minutes) READ Esther 1-4

Esther had been an orphan, so her cousin Mordecai adopted her. Mordecai kept in touch with Esther while she lived in the palace. One day, the king gave Haman the Agagite a very important position in the kingdom. The king even commanded the people to bow down to Haman. But Mordecai refused.  Haman was angry about Mordecai’s defiance, but instead of just punishing Mordecai, he planned to kill all the Jews in the kingdom.

Mordecai turned to Esther for help. After all, she was in a position of power, and the Jews were her people. The stakes were high. Esther could be killed for approaching the king without permission. But Esther was willing to take the chance and explain her people’s plight.

God’s plan all along was to send the Messiah through Abraham’s family. Haman’s evil plan might have stopped God’s plan, but God was in control. He was working out a plan to use Esther to rescue His people and make the way for His Son, Jesus, to come into the world.

Help your kids understand that the survival of God’s people was essential to God’s plan and that Satan tried to stop God’s plan any way he could. But God used Esther to rescue His people and make the way for His Son, Jesus, to come into the world.

(1 minute) REVIEW one of these doctrine memory questions, or the month’s memory verse by having your kids repeat it after you.

Gospel Project Big Picture Question: Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.

Memory Verse: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

(1 minute) PRAY and thank God for rescuing his people

Additional resources can be found in the Gospel Project for Kids app under Unit 18 - Session 1.

Tyler Deeb on Adoption and the Loads We Carry

AdministratorComment

This post was adapted from a recorded interview with Tyler Deeb.

We had our son Royal about six years ago. Before Royal was born, Noel talked with me about adoption. That was something I was not interested in--for all of the stereotypical reasons that a man is not interested in adoption.

The first time my heart softened to the idea was when we were walking around with Royal in the stroller about six months after he was born. Noel asked me to look at him and imagine that he was born without parents who cared for him. What if he was in a crib crying without loving parents to take care of him? 

That's not hyperbole. It's reality in a lot of orphanages around the world. Kids lose the will to cry because they haven't been responded to enough. Before that walk when we'd talked about it, it was hard for me to put it into context. But now that I had a son, I really understood how sad that was. So, I began to have empathy for the idea, but I wasn't sold that this was for us. Then, after we had our second son, North, Noel kept talking to me about adoption and asking me to consider it.

Around North's first birthday we started the process. We really didn't know what we were doing. Pretty much everything we did in pursuing the adoption process was with a lot of naivety and a really strong gut feeling. When I say gut feeling, I mean open-handed before the Spirit. Our prayer was, "Lord, if this isn't what we're supposed to be doing with out lives, you have every right to remove this opportunity or frustrate it so that it fails."

Adoption has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done by an insane amount.

You don't actually have to think about adopting that much during the process. You just go through the paperwork and work on the next thing. It does make you confront the reality, but it seems so far away that it doesn't really feel like something you're about to do. About a year into the process, we got placed with Win. His name was Xi-Jing at the time. I remember that we were driving back from Wisconsin visiting Noel's family and we got a picture and we were asked if we would adopt him. We said yes.

Then, about three months later, we found out we were pregnant. We weren't planning it. Agencies don't typically allow you to adopt within a short window of having a baby, so we were really upset.  It was such a tedious year-long process to adopt. We'd done all this work. We felt like we'd wasted our time and Win's time. These are such precious years of his life without parents. So we asked the agency if they would still consider us. Somehow they said yes, and we went to China to get Win in March of 2015.

Leon Bridges has this song, "River," that recently brought me to tears: "Take me to the river, Lord, I want to go." It reminds me of how desperate I am. Adoption has been the hardest thing I've ever done by an insane amount.  In some ways, we've been traumatized. I just find myself saying, "We don't have enough to do all this."

It has basically been insanity since March 2015. We were in China jet lagged. We got Win, and then we were jet lagged in the States when we got back. Win experienced the time change and the trauma of changing continents with all the different sounds and smells. A two year-old can't really process that kind of change, so he's waking up five to twelve times per night (depending on the night) full on screaming. Also, when you adopt, they tell you to work really hard at not allowing other adults to play a role in the parenting of the kid. We were told to not allow Win to be in children's ministry at Sojourn for the first six months or leave him with our parents. So he was always with us.

Then, we brought Ivory home two months later. She was also waking up in the night. We just felt like we couldn't give her the attention that we wanted... plus she was a GIRL... our first girl.

I feel like I’ve been given a load that is way heavier than any I’ve carried before, but God is using it to perfect me.

So much was changing with my boys experiencing this too. At some point, I realized that we were forcing North (who was almost 3) to grow up really quick. I heard myself saying, "Put your own pants on," or "I can't snuggle with you right now, because I have two other kids who can't live without me." It's sad watching sad things happen in your family. North was feeling somewhat abandoned, but I kept thinking, "I don't know how I can muster it up to make you feel better about this." 

So, I'm telling this story, because I want to communicate just how much we've appreciated children's ministry in this season. We're so thankful. I remember hearing an announcement one Sunday about the need for workers then coming upstairs to the preschool wing. I saw two workers alone in a class (honestly probably with too many kids). I found myself thinking... "Right now, we need you sooo much. I mean, we actually NEED you." I just wanted to plead with others to serve. Whether you can see it or not,  your participation in this ministry is truly the church taking care of the church.

In adopting, I feel like I've been given a load that is way heavier than any I've carried before, but the Lord is using it to perfect me. There's a way that C. S. Lewis describes it in Mere Christianity. He says that there are just big loads in the world. The church carries the load of sin and brokenness in the world, because God first carries those loads and we are his servants.

At SojournKids, we're headed into a new season of commitment and service. Join the service team at your congregation by filling out the application here.

5 Minute Devotional: The Temple Was Completed (Ezra 4-6)

Josh RobertsComment

Dear Parents,

In our story, God’s people resumed the work of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem after 15 years had passed without progress. God had turned the heart of the king for His people’s favor and he allowed them to complete the temple. (See Prov. 21:1; Ezra 6:22.) They dedicated it joyfully and observed the Passover.

(3 minutes) READ Ezra 4-6

God's people rebuilt the temple so they would have a place to worship God. Years later, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be with His people. Now God dwells not in the temple, but directly with His people. Because of Jesus, we don't need a temple anymore.

Help your kids see that in Christ, we find the substance of which the temple was a shadow. The Lord was not confined to a building, yet deity lives fully in Christ. (See Col. 2:9.) Jesus is our High Priest. He entered the most holy place for us. (Heb. 6:19-20) The priest offered the blood of animals, but Christ offered His own blood once and for all. (Heb. 9:25-26) He gives us access to the throne of grace. (Heb. 10:19-22)

(1 minute) REVIEW one of these doctrine memory questions, or the month’s memory verse by having your kids repeat it after you.

Gospel Project Big Picture Question: How can we obey God? We trust God to give us strength to obey Him.

Northstar Catechism: Why do we give? We can give because everything we have is a good gift from God

Memory Verse: Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. Daniel 2:20-21

(1 minute) PRAY and thank God for the sacrifice he made for us!

Additional resources can be found in the Gospel Project for Kids app under Unit 16 - Session 5.

5 Minute Devotional: God Brought His People Home (Ezra 1-2)

Josh RobertsComment

Dear Parents,

God’s people had been living in Babylon for 70 years. Some of God’s people had died in Babylon. Some of their children and grandchildren were born in Babylon and grew up there. But Babylon was not their home. Fortunately, the Lord did something miraculous in the king’s heart. He prompted King Cyrus to issue a decree: All the Jewish exiles are free to return to their ancestral homes.

(3 minutes) READ Ezra 1-2

Ezra 2:64-65 says nearly 50,000 people traveled back to Judah. When they got to Jerusalem, they began working to rebuild the temple that the Chaldeans had destroyed.  Zerubbabel led God's people back to the temple to rebuild it. The temple was the place where God met with His people on earth. Jesus came to earth to rescue God’s people. One day, Jesus will return to restore a greater home for all of God's people, and we will spend eternity with Him.

Help your kids understand that the temple was designed to point to Jesus. We meet with God not through a building now, but through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

(1 minute) REVIEW one of these doctrine memory questions, or the month’s memory verse by having your kids repeat it after you.

Gospel Project Big Picture Question: How can we obey God? We trust God to give us strength to obey Him.

Northstar Catechism: Why do we give? We can give because everything we have is a good gift from God

Memory Verse: Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. Daniel 2:20-21

(1 minute) PRAY and ask for Jesus to return as King!

Additional resources can be found in the Gospel Project for Kids app under Unit 16 - Session 4.

January Music for Sojourn Kids

Josh RobertsComment

Parents,

At Sojourn we want to partner with you as you disciple your children at home during the week.  Below are the memory verse, catechism and songs your children will learn in assembly this month.  We'd love for you to use these in your family devotionals to reinforce what the children are learning on Sunday.  Enjoy worshiping our great Savior with your family!

How can we obey God? We trust God to give us strength to obey Him.

Daniel 2:20-21  Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.  He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 

Songs we're singing: